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Transforming Governance: UNIS-Hanoi’s Secret Weapon

By Emma Silva

Energizing and equipping a board of directors to embrace strategic governance and to operate at a generative level for the benefit of our institutions is no easy task. But one international school’s journey to take its board to the next level has resulted in a movement so exciting it has brought a leader in the field of generative governance out of retirement!
Dr. Richard Chait, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University and widely acknowledged as a leader of thought in the world of non-profit board governance, has agreed to support the United Nations International School (UNIS) of Hanoi in their bold undertaking to work directly with their board of directors this year.
Driven by its school vision and values, UNIS Hanoi has decided to share this rare opportunity with its peer group of not-for-profit international schools by organizing a two-day workshop for heads of schools to attend with their board members. UNIS Head of School Chip Barder said: “If you have attended one of the UNIS Hanoi Board’s workshops over the last two years at an EARCOS Leadership Conference in Kuala Lumpur or Bangkok, you will know that we have been on an exciting journey, moving from an operationally-focused board to a strategically-functioning board that spends some of its time on generative governance.”
Board Chair Sarah Garner described the journey: “In attempting to include generative thinking into our board work, we have been following the literature and research presented by Dr. Chait, especially his more recent publication, Governance as Leadership.
“As a relatively new part of the governance model in international schools, we found it exciting but challenging to implement this less familiar generative mode, so we decided to go straight to the source and see if Dr. Chait would be willing to help; he said yes!”
The UNIS Hanoi Board of Directors this week announced the exciting opportunity for international school boards and heads, who are interested in taking their governance practice to the next level: Dr. Chait’s “Governance as Leadership” workshop will be held at UNIS Hanoi on 6-7 September 2014.
Dr. Barder said: “Over the last few years, one of the useful aspects of our Board’s attendance at the EARCOS Leadership Conference has been the connections we have made with other schools and their board members. We have discovered there is a growing demand for mutual support beyond this annual conference.
“So in the spirit of offering a relevant opportunity, and to promote best practice in board governance, we hope others will join us for this workshop, which will help us provide the very best for our students in an unpredictable future.”

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